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Training Center Cape May is the only U.S. Coast Guard recruit Training Center for Basic Military Training still operational today. Training Center Cape May prepares U.S. Coast Guards recruits to carry out the mission and roles of being a Coastguardsman in the United States Coast Guard. Here recruits will go through eight weeks of vigorous training in which they will learn the coast guards core values, Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. The recruits will be physically and mentally tested to their limits, they will arrive at the training center as recruits but will leave as members of the United States Coast Guard.

  • Aerial View of  Training Center Cape May,  Courtesy of Military
  • Coast Guard recruits From Training Center Cape May, Courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard in 2017
  • A U.S. Navy antisubmarine blimp leaving the hanger at Air station Cape May in 1918 (Now U.S. Coast Guard Training center Cape May) Courtesy of Dick Gibbs

Training Center Cape May has a rich naval history which dates all the way back to the American revolution. The harbor which Training Center Cape May is next to was used as a harbor of refuge during the American Revolution. In 1917 the U.S. Navy established a Section Base in Cape May to Provide Support, training, communications and defense facilities to that region of the East Coast. The property that they originally bought had an old amusement center on it which they turned in to a mess hall and bunks. In 1918, the newly renovated mess hall caught fire and burned down. The Navy then started building standard military buildings along the coast line, some of which are still being used today. After the first world war, the base was equipped to be able to accommodate dirigibles and the largest hanger in the world was built at the naval base so that it could hold the airship, but unfortunately, the aircraft crashed on the test flight. 

In 1924, the naval base was handed over to the U.S. Coast Guard where they established air facilities in which they used for customs services for immigrants. The Coast Guard, for a short amount of time, almost completely left the area. A small search and rescue station was all that remained for that period of time. The remnants of the section base were used as an airport from 1929-34. After the start of World War II, the airstrip was expanded, and the Navy then retook the base, which they used throughout the war to train aircraft carrier 
pilots. The over water approach at the base helped significantly with the pilots training. 

The Coast Guard was also at the base but just played the role of patrolling the coast of Cape May for enemy submarines, boats in case of an attack. They also still had the small search and rescue station on the base during the war. In 1946 the Navy handed the base back over to the Coast Guard. In 1948 all of the entry level recruitment for the east coast was moved to Cape May. In 1982 the Coast Guard combined all entry level training, and still today Training Center Cape May hosts all the entry level training for the Coast Guard.


“Training Center Cape May History.” United States Coast Guard,

Salvatore, Joseph E., and Joan Berkey. US Coast Guard Training Center at Cape May. Arcadia Publishing, 2012.